Dodgers Dugout: Streaking in L.A.

Hi, this is Houston Mitchell, reminding you that if the Dodgers keep winning like they are now, they will finish the season 159-3. That seems unlikely though. And now, on with the show.

Seven up
The Dodgers have won seven in a row and are 9-3 overall. The weak spot on the team? I bet you thought I was going to say the bullpen. Well, while the bullpen still scares me, the weak part has been starting pitching. The bullpen has a 2.17 ERA, the starting pitching 3.80. But let's look at how the team stacks up against the rest of the NL, through Sunday's games.
Runs per game: 1st (5.25)
Home runs: 1st (17)
Batting average: 1st (.288)
OB%: 1st (.368)
SLG%: 1st (.517)
ERA: 6th (3.24)
Strikeouts by pitchers: 1st (124)

That's impressive. Naysayers will tell you that it is a small sample size, which is true. But isn't it better to be first in a small sample size than 10th?

Trivia time
Name the only two L.A. Dodger teams to start the season with a record better than 9-3. Answer below.


Bullpen steps up
I have been really hard on the bullpen this season, and while they haven't won me over totally, it's only fair to note that they have given up only one earned run in their last 17.1 innings. It looks like Joel Peralta has settled in as closer, and he could be a good set-up man when Kenley Jansen returns. Steve Dilbeck breaks it all down for you here.

Speaking of Jansen
He threw a 15-pitch bullpen session on Saturday and expect to return the first half of May. When people say the first half of May, they usually mean May 15, not May 1, plus he will need a couple of rehab outings in the minors, so look for him to be back around My 20.

Andre keeps busy
Remember how Andre Ethier said he wanted to start or be traded because he wanted to get a lot of playing time? (just between you and me, he has always been a bit high maintenance and probably needs his teammates to constantly tell him how good he looks in his uniform). Well, Ethier has been in 11 games so far this season, more than starters Yasmani Grandal, Juan Uribe, Carl Crawford and Yasiel Puig.

Trivia answer
The 1981 Dodgers started 10-2, and went on to win the World Series. The 2005 Dodgers started 10-2, and finished the season 71-91. Wow, thanks for putting a damper on our emotions, 2005 Dodgers.

Matt Kemp trade watch
Periodically, we will check in on the Matt Kemp trade to see how it has worked out. Remember, there were three key components: Kemp, Grandal and Joc Pederson, who is starting now because Kemp got traded.

Kemp: .340, 1 homer, 9 RBIs
Grandal: .214, 1 homer, 2 RBIs
Pederson: .289, 2 homers, 6 RBIs
Edge: Dodgers. Pederson's superior defense gives them the edge, but it is closer.

This week in Dodgers history
April 20, 2011: Commissioner Bud Selig announces MLB is taking over operations of the Dodgers because of concerns over the ability of Frank McCourt to run the team.

April 23, 1999: St. Louis third baseman Fernando Tatis hits two grand slams in the same inning, both off of Dodgers starter Chan Ho Park in an 11-run third inning. Tatis remains the only player in baseball history to do that. 

April 25, 1976: Cubs outfielder Rick Monday races over and snatches the American flag away from two people who had run into the Dodger Stadium outfield and were attempting to burn it. We will have more on this in the next Dodgers Dugout.

And finally
Times baseball columnist Bill Shaikin, who I agree with most of the time, is wrong when he agrees with Magic Johnson that the fact few people can watch the Dodgers on TV doesn't hurt their brand. Here's why: Think about the Dodgers fan who can only afford to go to one or two games a year. How do they follow their favorite team? On TV. How do they get their children to love the Dodgers? By watching the game on TV with them. The child eventually sees something exciting happen, maybe a game-winning home by Adrian Gonzalez, and Gonzalez becomes that child's favorite player. He begs his dad to buy him a Gonzalez shirt. He asks when they are going to a game. Now, that doesn't happen. The TV blackout won't hurt the Dodgers monetarily this season, or next. But if it continues, then in 10 years they will have far fewer fans than they have now, because kids can't grow up watching the team and developing brand loyalty.

Have a comment or something you'd like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me and follow me on Twitter: @latimeshouston

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